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     Law & Justice In Everyday Life

Review by John J. Daley
Review by Kathy O'Connell
Review by Connie Lepore
Jacket Quotes

The 12-Minute MBA for Doctors
Review by Richard McGowan

Thibault Pursues Justice In Our Own Backyard

By John J. Daley, Book Editor
2002 Republican-American
Waterbury, CT
August 4, 2002

     In the daily newspapers, we don't have the time to focus on every misdeed or injustice. The crush of events makes it hard to give everything its due. Andy Thibault, who writes the Cool Justice column for the weekly Connecticut Law Tribune, has the extra time and a Jimmy Breslin punch to take a different look at some issues and people in the news.

     Thibault's subjects are often crime or cops, the law or lawyers, though there's plenty on issues of everyday concern. His aim is justice in his latest book, "Law and Justice in Everyday Life," a collection of his columns and other writings just out this month. It means you'll find many egos deflated and fat cats whipped as he separates the good guys from the bad. But beyond that, there's some wonderful writing by a man who truly has that talent.

     You'll read about Woody and Mia and Litchfield County State's Attorney Frank Maco. You'll read about Connecticut's grand and late state poet laureate Leo Connellan, who considered himself a working man's poet.  You'll get to meet his successor, Marilyn Nelson, a woman of extraordinary talents. You'll run into a woman locked in a tower weaving a tapestry of life when you meet the Wadsworth Atheneum's "The Lady of Shalott." You'll love every minute you spend with them.

     He writes of crimes that have made a mockery of the justice system, such as the Showalter hit-and-run cover-up in New London, the town where Thibault grew up. Kevin Showalter, a 20-year-old Mitchell College student, was struck and killed by a car as he changed a flat tire on a well-lighted street. The motorist drove off. Everyone played dumb in the case. The police barely investigated, and what little evidence they collected, they tainted. The state's attorney didn't want it investigated. The presiding judge turned out to be best friends with the leading suspect, a former New London mayor and multimillionaire jeweler, Harvey Mallove.

     Here he is on the high profile investigation by our famed chief forensic investigator on the death of Vincent Foster: "On page 485 of his report to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, Dr. Henry Lee details why he cannot offer a complete reconstruction of the death of former White House Council Vince Foster. The way I read it, this core element of the report screams: 'Don't blame me because there was no real investigation.'"

     Here he is on Title IX complaints: "An old rule in journalism goes something like this: If your mother says she loves you, get a second source. Here's a new guideline, not just for journalists, but also for parents, athletes and their lawyers: When school administrators say, 'We're in compliance with Title IX,' don't believe it for a second."

     There is much here of local interest, from Michael Skakel, Peter Reilly, the Troopers Mark and Kathleen Lauretano and the notorious Duntz brothers to the fight to reconstruct Harriet Beecher Stowe's family's house in Litchfield.

     You'll just love some of the sentimental moments, such as when Thibault takes us back to his Catholic high school:

     "These were our Wonder Years: girls with knee socks, white blouses and gray skirts concealing the mysteries of life; all our Beatle albums and great 45s sucked up by the mission drive; nuns, most of whom looked more like Joe Frazier than Sally Field and could whup Frazier, too. The scenes keep coming back, with greater frequency, after I walked into a New London restaurant a few weeks ago and said, 'Who the hell are all those old guys at the bar.?'

    "Take a look in the mirror," one of the old goats responded. We were the deadbeats who didn't make it the night before to the official 30th high school reunion."

     If you wonder how Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim will fare in his corruption trial, just take a look at his lawyer, Richard Meehan Jr., who has managed in the past to pull off some courtroom miracles.

     Of course, we are all concerned about getting to the beach in Greenwich, if we can ever afford to park there.  We'll let Thibault close this review by doing our shouting:

    "It struck me when I saw a bunch of Greenwich locals freaking out on TV the other day, saying that parking fees of $10 to $30 a day - and additional entrance fees to boot - weren't high enough to keep out the infidels. What a bunch of slobs. I couldn't see anything that makes these people any more hifalootin than say, their brethren in East Haven."

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Two Books Everyone Should Read
By Kathy O'Connell
Record-Journal Staff

"The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken," by Terry Teachout. Harper Collins; 410 pages; $29.95

"Law & Justice in Everyday Life," by Andy Thibault; TNT Publishing; 252 pages; $20

     Journalism is a tricky thing, and always has been. Seemingly civic-minded halfwits who think they can put something over on an unsuspecting public have been around since the beginning of newspapers, if not the beginning of time itself.

     That was something Henry Louis Mencken came to know better, and express with more contrary eloquence, than any newspaperman in American history. It's also something a Connecticut journalist carries like both a torch and a badge of honor, shedding light into those corners the halfwits would rather keep dark.

     "The Skeptic," by Terry Teachout, and "Law & Justice in Everyday Life," by Andy Thibault, are two very different books. One is thick and lavish and took Teachout nearly a decade to put together; the other is an unassuming-looking paperback that's a collection of pieces that first appeared elsewhere.

     So it's somewhat surprising that Thibault's, and not Teachout's, is the better book in the long run, and here's why: Though Teachout's book is well-written and filled with details other biographies of Mencken have lacked, it feels hurried and breathless, and has more than a few passages in which Teachout seems to be trying to impress us with the range of what he knows.

     Thibault, however, closer to the spirit of Mencken's curmudgeonly legacy, is telling his readers over and over again that a lot of people in positions of power are fools, and dangerous ones at that.

     It's particularly that facet of Mencken's talent and personality that Teachout, for all his hard work and intricate research, fails to capture. "The Skeptic" is an often aggressively ordinary book about a man who lived an almost aggressively ordinary life but who produced some of the most influential newspaper writing of the early 20th century.

     What's good about "the Skeptic" is that Teachout reminds us that 46 years after Mencken's death in Baltimore - a city in which he lived all his life, and most of that in the same house at 1524 Hollins St. - he is still a force with which to be reckoned, political correctness be damned.

     William Manchester, who wrote a far better, if not quite as revealing, biography of Mencken in 1950, "Disturber of the Peace," has often said that no newspaper in the country would have the guts to publish Mencken nowadays. His opinions were too prickly, too apt to offend this group or that.

     Yet for all the acidic feistiness of Mencken behind a typewriter, those who met him were often shocked that they'd just shaken hands with a man who was unfailingly courteous, even courtly - he was, after all, born in and shaped by 19th century culture. That's a divide Teachout doesn't do much to bridge, nor does he ever adequately explain, as Manchester and others have, what it means to be bitten by the newspaper bug in all its dubious glory.

     At the same time, "The Skeptic" isn't without value. It's a good introduction for those who've forgotten Mencken, or, more tragically, never heard of him in the first place. Ideally, "The Skeptic" should lead those who read it to Mencken's own work, which was voluminous and is mostly still in print.

     That way, readers can decide for themselves if he was, as some passionately politically correct type insist, a racist anti-Semite, or a man who wrote what he thought and loved making waves, often big ones, with those thoughts. The reason Thibault's book is the better one is because it's an unpretentious series of examples of how entirely too many people use public service as a rathole in which to hide when they very consciously do
something wrong.

     At every turn, behavior like that makes Thibault deliciously angry. Much like Mencken, he knows journalistic objectivity is capable of being as much of a crock as it is a construct. He documents several unsolved murders and asks pointed questions about them. He gives credit to honest lawyers and upstanding jurists when it's due - and goes after them like a pit bull when it isn't.

     There are also some very fine surprises in "Law & Justice in Everyday Life" that have very little to do with either of those things. Though Thibault's primarily a columnist for The Connecticut Law Tribune, he's also written for Northeast and Connecticut magazines, and his pieces on Leo Connellan, the state poet laureate who died last year, are worth the price of the book alone.

     But wait! There's more! A nifty deconstruction of the Woody Allen case; a swell defense of a college newspaper from marauding administrators! Come to think of it, we need both these books, one to remind us of what the past could be, and the other to keep us mindful of how the present can turn out if we fail to be ever vigilant.

E-mail: koconnell@record-journal.com

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Thibault Not Clueless In Writing Arresting Book
By Connie Lepore
Amici/Friends magazine
Naugatuck, CT
February 2003

     Brainless bureaucrats to murderers masquerading as acolytes of the law to a detective catching cool, cold-blooded killers all come under the purview of Andy Thibault in his new book, "Law & Justice in Everyday Life."

     This is an eye-opening blockbuster collection of essays that one needn't consume at a single on a broad spectrum of topics that originally appeared in the Connecticut Law Tribune. But the stories are so gripping, so carefully and seemingly effortlessly crafted, that many readers won't retire for the day until they have polished off the last piece.

     Thibault, who's worked in the public and private sector, has a long background as a journalist and editor at papers near and far, is a licensed prizefighting judge, a college instructor, an investigator for law firms and a fellow of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy Studies.
     The list is a lot longer, which explains in large part his command and insight on a universe of subjects.

     When he writes of the morons at Stonington High School who threatened to suspend for 10 days a boy who was an unauthorized candidate for the student government "for inciting a riot," he does so with a sureness abetted by both personal experience and media accounts of the alarmingly fast proliferating body of idiots in charge of America's public

     Thibault distills the complex tragedy that befell Sacco and Vanzetti, two Italian anarchists hanged in Massachusetts by reprehensible and bloodthirsty men of the law, to the essential chilling details in unadorned, sparse prose more writers ought to emulate.

     Simplicity of expression is also transparent in the absorbing account of the former state police detective who nailed serial killer Michael Ross and tripped up a spouse who murdered his mate while they were collaborating on a murder mystery.

     Michael Malchik also helped hunt down the murderer, who was a member of Mensa, the group for folks with a high IQ. After the killer played cat-and-mouse with Malchik and his fellow detectives, they got their man.
     At 20 bucks, the Thibault work is a bargain. It can be ordered from local bookstores or Amazon.com and bn.com

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Law & Justice in Everyday Life
Jacket Quotes

"Andy Thibault shines a bright light in dark places. There is a reason Connecticut's Judicial Department refuses to pay for subscriptions to the newspaper carrying his column. It's called cowardice. Buy this book, and send a copy to the next judge you meet who thinks his robe is an invincible shield. `Law and Justice in Everyday Life' is a useful reminder that, in the end, every case is really a simple human story."
—Atty. Norm Pattis, New Haven, CT

"If Andy Thibault worked and wrote in any number of countries around the globe, he'd be in jail, tortured and maybe even dead. Absolute authority always leads to abuse. Andy has championed the right of the journalist to puncture the pompous pussbag of absolute judicial power."
—Dr. James B. Irwin, Sr., Chairman, IMPAC University, Punta Gorda, FL

"While others are out chasing big bucks or building empires, Andy Thibault is defining self-abnegation by uncovering injustice and mendacity and especially the distinctive bubble-headedness of officialdom.  Let us be grateful for this book."
Anthony Dolan, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his expose of police corruption in Stamford, Ct. and former Chief Speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan; Special Adviser to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

"Andy Thibault writes in the grand tradition of H.L. Mencken and Mike Royko. Thibault knows the judicial system and knows politics from the inside and out. He doesn't shoot from the hip. He's a careful reporter who checks his facts. He is a literate, erudite observer who writes with authority and punch. There is a yearning for, a demand for justice in the way he puts words together. A Renaissance man as comfortable at a boxing match as at a poetry reading, Thibault keeps and holds a sense of optimism even as he scolds legions of movers and shakers who have strayed beyond the bounds of civilized life in the midst of civilized New England."
—James H. Smith, Executive Editor, Record-Journal, Meriden, CT

"Andy Thibault's columns demonstrate why we need a Fourth Estate. You will find suffering victims, incompetent justices, criminals protected, and just about everything else in the dark underbelly of New England. I will urge my journalism students to read it carefully."
—Roger Desmond, Ph.D., Director, School of Communication
University of

 "I read Andy for information, for the compelling human dramas he uncovers and for my pleasure in his use of the English language. But I also read him for a more selfish reason: In reading Andy's columns I am reminded that there is one thing more important than compromise and diplomacy -- and that is exercising our freedom of speech in the service of those who have been rendered impotent by power politics. Just one Andy Thibault in the world is enough to show us not only what is possible, but also what is necessary for us to truly become the land of the free, and the home of the brave."
—Randy Roark, Poet, Boulder, CO

"As a newspaperman for the past 35 years I have witnessed the ever-diminishing role of blunt, straight-talking journalism. At any gathering of publishers, the common lament is the mystery of declining readership, especially among the young. But if more publishers invested in columnists and reporters like Andy Thibault, I am confident they would watch readership and paid circulation climb instead of decline."
—Michael Bradley, Publishers Consultant, Cape Cod, MA

"Those who think they know the law will be enlightened; those who care about social justice will be outraged; and those who care about a good read will be thrilled. Thibault is one part Thurgood Marshall, one part H.L. Mencken, and one part Raymond Chandler."
--Christine Palm, Editor, Readings, the Publication of the Connecticut Center for the Book, Hartford, CT

"An eloquent and passionate argument for justice, and, in one volume, a compelling lesson in the history of political and judicial manipulation in New England."
-- Lary Bloom, author of The Writer Within.

"Andy has made a career comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. Justice might be blind, but his vision is 20/20 when it comes to how the system delivers its product every day." 
-- Diane Smith, Connecticut radio talk show host and public
television producer

"Andy Thibault’s Law And Justice In Everyday Life is an unusual, perhaps extraordinary book. But then Andy Thibault himself is an unusual, and probably extraordinary man. In this day and age, he is a bit of an anomaly, sort of a gunslinger from the Old West, ready to fire at anything that moves -- especially if he doesn’t take kindly to the movement ... He is in a way a corollary of Robin Hood; he takes from the powerful and gives to the weak."
-- F. Lee Bailey, whose clients have included Dr. Sam Sheppard, Patty Hearst, Albert DeSalvo and O.J. Simpson, in the Foreword to the 2nd edition.

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The 12-Minute MBA for Doctors
by Charles Johnson with Andy Thibault
Michelle Publishing Company
Rocky Hill, CT 06067
ISBN: 0-09626001-2-1
102 Pages; Price:  $12.

Reviewed by Richard McGowan
Connecticut Jewish Ledger
November 30, 2001

Self-help manuals rarely impact professions other than their targeted audiences.  "The 12-Minute MBA for Doctors," however, shatters that myth by providing practical skills for any novice trying to survive in today's chaotic business world.

     You don't have to be a medical professional to benefit from this fluent and provocative book.  Anyone who doesn't know how to negotiate a lease, hire staff or deal with an insurance company will learn how to build a successful business.

     Written by two Litchfield, Connecticut friends and neighbors,  "The 12-Minute MBA for Doctors" is a lively collaboration between Charles Johnson and Andy Thibault.  Johnson's firm,Medical Education Training Associates of Woodbury, Connecticut, helps doctors, bankers and other professionals run their businesses.

     A couple of years ago, Johnson delivered a 12-minute talk before the Society for University Surgeons in New Orleans. After several colleagues asked for help running their businesses, one of them suggested Johnson call his program "The 12-Minute MBA for Doctors."  A book was born.

     Thibault, a columnist for The Connecticut Law Tribune and a freelance writer for The Connecticut Jewish Ledger, is an award-winning feature writer and nationally known investigative reporter.

     Together, Johnson and Thibault provide punchy insights in eight chapters on such practical business skills as persuasive communication, team building and conflict resolution. One section in the chapter on communication is applicable to the home front as well as the business world.

     Johnson asks: "What are the first three answers you hear from your significant other when you get home. For most people, it's three words - fine, fine, chicken. Why is that? Simple. The questions you asked were probably: How was your day? How are the kids? What's for dinner?" Not exactly great conversation starters.

     "After I spent a day with one of my sales managers," Johnson continues, "I was invited to his house for dinner. We talked about a strategy before we went home. We walked in the door and he says hello to his wife. He says, 'Tell me about your day.'  She started to say, "Fine," but then she heard his question. 'Well, the kids and I went shopping and we went to the park and we played on the swing, and.' He could actually hear information she was imparting and was able to give her positive feedback."

     This is just one communication example of trying to persuade people with your people power instead of your position power. Communication, the book notes, is one of the five components of a successful team, along with leadership, defined roles, clear objectives and trust. Specific chapters deal with negotiating skills, interviewing and hiring skills, understanding financial issues, strategic and tactical planning, teamwork and leadership.

     As Johnson and Thibault detail, surgeons are still trained like blacksmiths. Although they are at the pinnacle of their profession, they tend to know little about business - after four years of college, four years of medical school and then five more years of residency and fellowship education. They are turned loose in their early to mid-30s and expected to run a business that is not run by their peers.

     Today, health care is run more and more by business people - not doctors. Hospital administrators tend to be business people. Insurance companies have everything to do with the running of health care today. Yet the highly skilled physician, untrained in management and economic matters, has to deal on an everyday basis with people who run business. How does he get his business started and survive?

     The answers are in this book. But readers from many other disciplines will benefit significantly from any 12-minute helping of this management primer.

      Richard McGowan is a former White House correspondent for the New York Daily News.

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